Do you remember Robert Mitchum in Thunder Road. He reminds us of the CEO’s of Exxon, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, etc. “The Law they never got him cause the devil got him first,” sort of thing. The Thunder Road movie was about moonshiners of the early 1950’s. Their daring driving gave birth to what is affectionately known today as NASCAR. I remember the movie, and it is nothing like the highly regulated NASCAR of 2008. So what is the deal with regulations? How boring.
Turn those corporations loose, let’em run. Let’s stimulate the economy with some real “white lighting.” Why would anyone think that an Unbridled EXXON would be anything but good for the economy? And how about those big investment firms? So some poor snook who did not graduate from high school is burdened with exorbitant interest rates on a loan he did not need? Is this the responsibility of government?
Regulations have really tamed NASCAR. Yellow flags fly at every turn. Slow down cowboy, you might get hurt. Vito Corleone would say, “After all, we are not murderers.” But if they did not kill anyone no one would watch the movie. If there were no big crashes in NASCAR, if there was no danger, there would be no audience.
There is a better sport that is analogous to our economy. Horse Racing. This is really about fast horses, regulated by a smart jockey. Smart Jockeys know their horse. They know when to pull in the reigns, and they know when to let the horse run. The CEO of Bear Stearns let the horse run – he did not pull in the reigns – and he led the field for the first lap. He waived to the cheering crowd of Board Members. But he lost the race.
The point is simple. There are those who protest government regulation, and with good cause. The ultimate in government regulation of an economy is called socialism – and very few Americans want that. Certainly not us. But allowing bullies and thugs free reign is a replay of Thunder Road.
The present economic disaster is a case where a little bit of government could have prevented massive government.
Our President is the man we hire to be our jockey, to ride our horse to victory.